"going Backward": Effects of age and fatigue on posterior-directed falls in Parkinson disease

Evan V. Papa, Rita M. Patterson, Nicoleta Bugnariu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Nearly half of persons with Parkinson disease (PD) report fatigue as a factor in their fall history. However, it is unknown whether these self-reported falls are caused by a sensation of fatigue or performance fatigue. OBJECTIVE: We sought to investigate the influences of performance fatigue and age on postural control in persons with PD. METHODS: Individuals with PD (n = 14) underwent postural control assessments before (T0) and immediately after (T1) fatiguing exercise. Biomechanical data were gathered on participants completing a treadmill-induced, posterior-directed fall. Performance fatigue was produced using lower extremity resistance exercise on an isokinetic ergometer. Repeated measures ANCOVAs were used with age as a covariate to determine the effects of performance fatigue on biomechanical variables. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, there was a statistically significant difference in peak center of pressure (COP) latency during the support phase of recovery. Pairwise comparisons demonstrated a decrease in peak ankle displacement from T0 to T1. Age was also found to be significantly related to reaction time and peak knee displacement while participants were fatigued. CONCLUSIONS: The decreased peak COP latency, along with decreased ankle angular displacement, suggest that persons with PD adopt a stiffening strategy in response to backward directed falls. Postural stiffening is not uncommon in persons with PD and could be a risk factor for falls. Older individuals with PD demonstrate slower mobility scores and decreased reaction times in the setting of fatigue, suggesting a combined effect of the aging and fatigue processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Parkinson's disease
  • balance
  • falls
  • fatigue
  • performance fatigue


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